Government IT projects to face scrutiny

DTA to establish new office to monitor IT spending

The federal government has commissioned a review of all its major technology projects. The review will cover all active projects over $10 million and those that “engage a large number of Australians” being conducted by non-corporate Commonwealth entities.

The review was announced today the government’s assistant minister for digital transformation Angus Taylor.

Taylor said that the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) would launch a new office to deliver a comprehensive picture of the status of IT projects.

“The DTA will ensure we’re investing in the right technology projects, we can track their implementation, and know they will deliver on the public policy benefits they promise,” Taylor said in a statement.

“This is more than a review, it’s ongoing oversight, and it will provide unprecedented visibility and centralised management of IT projects.”

The government spends around $6.2 billion a year on ICT.

A number of high-profile government tech failures. Last year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ online Census was a debacle. The Census was pulled offline after a series of denial of service attacks that a government review concluded were “defeatable” had there been adequate preperation.

Then later in 2016 the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) suffered a major outage of its core services after a storage hardware failure. A second major failure occurred earlier this year.

In addition, a data-matching program by Centrelink has faced significant criticism (though its implementation has been defended by the government).

The DTA was established last year as a successor to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Digital Transformation Office. Still sitting within the DPMC, the DTA has taken over the ICT policy and ICT procurement functions previously overseen by the Department of Finance.

The review of government IT projects is expected to be completed by mid-2017.